September 07, 2014

1980-81: Gretzky Smashes Records, Bossy Nets 50 In 50

The Three Stars:

Gretzky Breaks Records: Get used to seeing Wayne Gretzky's name A LOT this decade. Gretzky smashed Phil Esposito's record for most points in a season with 164 and Bobby Orr's record for most assists with 109. Gretzky cleaned up at the awards table with the Art Ross Trophy, the Hart Trophy and the Lady Byng trophy. Surprisingly, Edmonton finished the season with a losing record.

Islanders Dominate: The New York Islanders repeat as Stanley Cup champions in a most memorable season. On January 24th, 1981 Mike Bossy joins Rocket Richard as the only two players to score 50 goals in 50 games. Bossy, who scored his 50th goal with just 1:29 left in the game, finishes with a league leading 68 goals. He adds another 17 goals and a NHL record 35 points in 18 playoff games to lead the Isles to Stanley Cup number two. Surprisingly, Bossy does not win the Conn Smythe and is not even a finalist for the Hart Trophy.

Stastnys Defect: Brothers Peter and Anton Stastny, stars of Czechoslovakia's national team, defect to North America amid much fanfare and sign with the Quebec Nordiques. Peter sets a rookie record with 109 points and wins the Calder trophy. Their success leads to further defections (including older brother Marian who joins the Nordiques the next season) and eventually to an agreement with the Czechoslovak Federation to allow veteran players to leave their country legally.

Season Highlights:

  • LA's Charlie Simmer also chased 50 goals in 50 games, but came up dry in games 49 and 50. He had 49 at the 50 game mark, then had to settle for a total of 56 due to injury. Surprisingly Simmer only took 171 shots for a shooting percentage of an amazing 32.7%
  • Simmer really helped Marcel Dionne to banner season. Dionne finished second in the league with 58 goals, 3rd with 77 assists and 2nd with 135 points. Dionne also reaches the 1000 career point mark in 740 games - the youngest at that time.
  • Guy Lafleur and Bobby Clarke both reach the 1000 point marker. 
  • Mark Howe suffers a near fatal injury as he is checked into the immovable net and is speared in his buttock, barely missing his spine. He returned after 17 games. The NHL immediately began looking for ways to have nets that broke free in the event of such collisions.
  • Mike Liut wins the Pearson trophy and is runner up to Wayne Gretzky for the Hart Trophy with is spectacular season. Liut won 33 of his 60 games, but it was incredible play with an average St. Louis team.

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